We had been driving for five hours when we caught a glimpse of a small historic inn and decided to stop.
That Saturday morning, we had set off very early to avoid traffic jams on our annual leaf-peeping October trip from New York City to Vermont.
Every year on our wedding anniversary, for almost ten years now, we had been doing this foliage driving tour. The landscape around us was incredibly full of fiery reds, deep oranges and bronze yellow maple and oak leaves which, blowing in the wind, were performing a peaceful and incredibly magical ballet…
As Albert Camus wrote, “Fall is a second spring when every leaf is a flower...”
When we got out of the car and I could finally have a full view of a charming nineteenth century-style country inn frontage that looked slightly familiar to me.
As soon as we checked in, we went for a long walk around. I was lost in my thoughts when all of a sudden, Holden, who had been extremely quiet during the whole walking trip, suggested that we should get back because the sun was going down. After a quick shower, we had a romantic meal at a table by the fireplace and we exchanged gifts. I was given an extraordinary golden maple leaf bracelet. I was so delighted and still madly in love with him that I could hardly breathe. We finally went to sleep late, talking about everything and nothing at all.
When I woke up the next day he was gone, though. At first, I thought he would be having breakfast somewhere or taking a stroll. However, after two hours looking for him I was completely and absolutely terrified and I decided to ask the receptionist to call the police. She just looked at me and, in a very soft and sympathetic voice told me, “Miss Cauldfield, when you checked in last night you were alone like every time since you have been coming here for the last five years”. She was obviously kidding me.
“For God’s sake, please call the police!” I uttered in anguish.
After waiting nervously for almost an hour, I desperately broke down into tears while sitting on an old armchair in the cosy and now too familiar lounge. Besides, I was surrounded by people who were looking at me in a creepy weird way, full of compassion and understanding.
When the police officer came in, he simply said “Again, Miss Caulfield? Last year you promised it’d be the last time. Do you remember me? I found you five years ago when you had a car crash three miles away from here, your husband... your husband died in that accident, do you remember…?”
He continued telling me a strange story that I couldn’t believe, I was only able to stare at my golden maple leaf bracelet, which didn’t look as brand-new and shiny as the night before. In fact, it seemed rather worn out. “Don’t worry, we have already phoned your doctor and he is going to pick you up... As usual.”